Pockmarks in Plaster

I woke looking at my reflection in the microwave door. Normally, I see the alarm clock digits. But as re-entry from overnight cobwebs parted, I remembered the reason—kitchen project.
 
There’s no teacher like experience and I dip into that well frequently. I’ve done my share of home improvements throughout life, but could still use some work on my in-the-trenches technique. I do my homework and garner all the advice I can get. I try to listen with an open head and heart, and follow instructions to the letter. But my efforts continually collide with what I think I’ve learned and actual accomplishment.
 
The kitchen project has spanned two Aprils and counting. Our house was 80 years old when we started. Since then, the simple paint job we envisioned has morphed into plaster repairs with more dust than the haunted house in Disneyland. Over time and several hiatuses, we realized we had to draw the line, flip the afterburner switch and get this mess off our plate. We’re getting closer. But the light at the end of the tunnel is approaching at about a mile per hour.
 
Kitchens get my vote for amassing the most stuff in the actual living area of a home. From refrigerators to toothpicks, we jockeyed appliances and cupboard contents to other rooms around the house. Anywhere was legitimate location for anything. The microwave, a loaded drying-rack of washed dishes and several utensil drawers found their way into the bedroom. We thought the temporary residence of kitchenware in unaccustomed places would last a day or two, depending on the project phase. But sometimes it turned into weeks and that didn’t count when we reached good stopping points. We’d rejoin those phases later and move the same stuff second, third and fourth times. In the process, we lost some parts, like the roll of aluminum foil we’d used the night before. That one hasn’t even shown up in the couch cushions.
 
I’ve learned that do-it-yourself YouTube videos can be misleading. Those experts in front of the camera have done the work they’re demonstrating since birth. They sling on plaster like Tom Sawyer whitewashing a fence. Since that’s not on my skill chart, I’ve repeated the putty-sand-wash procedure umpteen times.
 
Can’t say I’ve embraced that repetition. However, starting over is my constant companion and integral to lesson retention. For instance, if a standard vacuum inhales even a small amount of water, the wet bag loses structural integrity, splits and blows contents out the back end. It’s good to catch this sort of mishap before too much time passes. In my situation, my back was turned and until I smelled it, I didn’t realize the powdery joint compound was recoating the walls, floor and countertops.
 
Neighbors and friends often drop by to offer consultation, commentary and flat out help. Without my asking, one friend volunteered to spray-texture the walls. She explained it was her way of paying forward some of the contributions she wanted to make in life. Her kindness touched us, but I was elated for other reasons, too. First, this would camouflage my plaster goofs. Second, I’d learn by doing when my turn came to give spray-texturing a try.
 
However, as I watched her artistry, I knew to stay the hell out of it. My participation would have been akin to grabbing the brush from O’Keefe, yelling “cut” on the set of a Bergman film or adding a kazoo to Bach’s Cello Suites.
 
In some cultures, weavers who handcraft exquisite Persian rugs purposely slip in one imperceptible imperfection. Their reasoning is that only God can be perfect and they do not want to challenge the All-Mighty. In so many ways, I’m with them. Our kitchen project is my Persian rug and I’m no threat to the throne. I’ve left behind a hundred reasons for the Creator to rest comfortably.

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